(FOX19) - In the world of grocery store chains, bigger is better. In fact, Kroger just opened a 133,000-square-foot store in Independence, Kentucky selling everything from food to furniture.
A leather living room set is on display at the Kroger store in Newport. It's something you'd expect to find at a furniture store, but Kroger Customer Communications Specialist Jennifer Gross says it's a trend among supermarkets to offer more than just groceries.
"With larger sizes, more room, we're able to offer our customers more variety and more services, and that allows them to cross more off their list when they come into our store," Gross tells FOX19.
A bigger variety is what many shoppers want.
Mario Ford of Newport likes having everything he needs under one roof, saying, "You can just come into this Kroger, and they just have everything. That's what I love about it. It's my favorite Kroger."
Northern Kentucky University Economist Janet Harrah also believes customers want bigger stores.
"It's not just the grocery stores getting bigger. Walmart's getting bigger, Target is starting to carry food, Walgreen stores, lots of stores are branching out of their traditional roles," Harrah explained.
In this era of super-sized grocery stores, is there still a place for the small neighborhood market? Harrah thinks so, telling FOX19, "The place for mom and pops is specialty markets and niche marketing."
"To this community, and I think most communities they're very important," added Sandy Vierling, who opened the DeSales Market in East Walnut Hills just six months ago. "They've lost their small grocery stores, similar to the IGA stores, and a lot of people can't really get out to the big super stores."
Kremer's Market in Crescent Springs has developed a loyal customer base. Lisa Dieso lives nearby and likes the personal touch.
"I like coming to a small store where I know I'm getting a quality product, and I get personal attention," she explained.
Hank Geiske says he's been shopping at Kremer's for years.
"I like the people that work here. I talk to them usually in the morning when I come by," he said.
Tom Heist's grandfather started Kremer's Market in the 1930s, selling mostly produce. Since then, they've expanded to groceries and some specialty items.
Heist says what keeps them in business is the quality of their merchandise and service with a personal touch.
Overall, economists say independent grocery stores are fading from the American landscape because of shrinking profit margins and competition from large grocery chains.